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Armenian Tourists Flocking To Georgia's Coast In Record Numbers

A woman selling fruit in the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti

A woman selling fruit in the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti

YEREVAN -- The number of Armenians vacationing on Georgia's Black Sea coast may reach a new high this year and bring the coastal region back as one of the most popular Armenian vacation destinations.

The number of visitors fell dramatically during last summer's Georgian-Russian war when thousands of panic-stricken Armenians fled the country. Despite that, between 50,000-60,000 Armenians are estimated to have visited Georgia last year as tourists.

An Armenian tourist in the southwestern Georgian region of Adjara told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that "vacationing in Armenia is expensive," summing up why many Armenian vacationers prefer Georgia to their country. He said a weeklong trip to the coastal Georgian capital of Batumi will cost him, his wife, and two children only 200,000 drams ($540). He said that would not be enough for the family to spend a week in most Armenian resorts.

Some 25,000 Armenians have already visited, but "most of the tourist influx occurs in August," Armenian Regional Consul-General Hakob Haji-Hakobian told RFE/RL. The coastal region of Adjara expects the number of tourists to reach 70,000 by the fall.

The fact that Armenia is landlocked is another reason for the popularity of the Georgian coast, where summer time brings cars with Armenian license plates and even Armenian-language signs in public places because of the onslaught.